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COMMENTS & OPINIONS  

The Unfair Attacks on Dr. Zubairu Kalokoh
By Dr. Sylvia O. Blyden
Jun 13, 2011, 12:12
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Ahmed Zubairu Kalokoh
I have been so saddened to read some of the recent personal attacks on the General Manager of the National Power Authority(NPA), Dr. Ahmed Zubairu Kalokoh; with the latest coming out as the lead story in past Fridays edition of a local paper edited by my brothers in this journalism business. I very respectfully decline to accept their vaguely defined allegations as to why Kalokoh should be immediately removed as Head of NPA. I might try to find time to investigate the facts and figures published about the so-called mismanagement at NPA, however, even without conducting any empirical investigations, it is clear that the vague mismanagement allegations, as presented, are not sufficient to bring down the good name of  Dr. Ahmed Zubairu Kalokoh, one of Sierra Leones most hardworking public servants.

I know that sometimes when political leaders want to get rid of a public servant, they employ the services of the Media to first tarnish the image of the person being targeted in order to make his/her removal easier and I suspect this might be the case for poor Dr. Kalokoh. I read that Abu Bangura, of Privatisation Commission, does not want to renew Kalokohs contract. This might be Banguras prerogative and possibly President Koroma endorses this also. No bones with that. I respect such prerogatives.

I understand that the World Bank is insisting that the matter of a sustained Acting G.M. is not good and are supposedly withholding some forty million dollars until a permanent NPA G.M. is put in place. Again, all well and good and may the best person become employed.

What I want to focus on today are not the vague allegations but the unfair destruction of the public persona of Zubairu Kalokoh which in my humble view he simply does not deserve. Whoever wants him to be destructively removed from NPA should at least try and get their facts straight before feeding them to the Media for publication.

First of all, it is untrue to say Zubairu Kalokoh only came home to scrounge for work after the 2007 Elections results were announced. I first met Zubairu Kalokoh in the Year 2004 when I was running my life-saving Internet Center at the Lumley Roundabout. He was by then a World Bank Consultant who worked on our Post-war Public Utilities needs especially in area of Power Generation and Water Supply. He would spend a lot of time using the Internet.

Now, as an aside, let me state that I was not given a National Honour only for my work in Journalism but for my work in Journalism, Internet Information Technology & Business.

The current Director General of Foreign Affairs Alhaji Soulay Daramy was the then State of Chief of Protocol and he will readily confirm how many times my novel business concept of a 24 hours Internet Business Center saved him and his then-Boss (former President Kabbah) when the Sierratel communication Lines would go down and the Government or President needed to send urgent messages out to international fax numbers and receive such faxes. I was the only one in the country who knew how to send and receive such faxes through the Internet. My private Lumley office, using Datatel Internet service, would be transformed into a Presidential Communications Center from which sensitive State documents would be sent out. My customers would be browsing in the main public cafe whilst inside my private office, would be Alhaji Soulay Daramy transmitting out State information to international partners in diverse countries; not once did anything leak out.

Mr. Daramy was not the only one who enjoyed the use of my private office rather than the public Internet hall. The current Attorney-General and Justice Minister Frank Kargbo was also given similar privileges when he was unceremoniously thrown out of his UN-funded offices at the Truth & Reconciliation Commission and urgently needed Internet and Printing access. Out of the respect I had for Frank Kargbo, I usually allowed him to use my private office rather than leave him to mingle with the masses teeming in the public hall of my Internet business.

Another person whom I had a lot of respect for and thus allowed to use my private offices and not my Public Internet Hall was the gentleman from the United States whom had been contracted by the World Bank to do consultancy work on Sierra Leones post-war Public Utilities like Electricity (NPA) and Water (Guma). His name was Dr. Ahmed Zubairu Kalokoh. He is today acting as the General Manager of the National Power Authority. So, for anyone to write and say Dr. Zubairu Kalokoh is a nonentity who was scrounging for a job in 2007 and was not recognised by the World Bank is erroneous. As far back as 2004, he was already a recognised international consultant in Power Utilities.

I took to Dr. Kalokoh because of his very civil manner which is why he enjoyed preferential treatment. Kalokoh is a perfect gentleman and even in my absence from the country, my staff all became so fond of him that he continued to enjoy such preferential treatment at the Internet Cafe whenever he would come to Sierra Leone to carry out work. So, let me reiterate that as far back as 2004, Dr. Kalokoh was contracted by the World Bank to work on a Power Utility consultancy in Sierra Leone.

Secondly, the Lawsuit that has been cited by local tabloids was actually initiated by Zubairu Kalokoh as a civil wrongful dismissal lawsuit and was not a criminal conviction brought against him.

Dr. Kalokoh was an African who succeeded to head one of the Departments of one of the largest Power Generating Utilities in the United States but who alleges he then suffered  from serious racism which forced him to take his white employers to court to seek redress. Indeed, the sections being cited are what his employers stated about him to the court and not some kind of criminal case that the court convicted him for!

I have seen the Annual Reports for the years immediately preceding the dismissal of Kalokoh by Pennsylvania authorities and they just cannot reconcile with what was alleged against him in Court. It is a fact that our African brothers who excel in America; especially in the civil service, can be unfairly targeted and face unbelievable horrors which only a few of them can stand up against.

Ask anyone why current President Obamas father never returned to America and the answer might shock you! Male Africans in America are subjected to serious racisms and Zubairu Kalokoh, believing he had been unjustly treated, took his employers to court. What is being cited in his employers documents is what they wanted the world to see him as. But how could such a sloppy and dishonest person as he is being painted, have risen up the ladder to attain such heights without such levels of dishonesty and sloppiness being recognised earlier?

As Africans, let us be careful how we bring our compatriots down based on racially motivated injustices they had suffered at the hands of white men in America.

As I said earlier, I do not know the specifics of the so-called current mismanagement of NPA by Dr. Zubairu Kalokoh but what I do know is that what has been presented so far are not at all convincing reasons to cry down the man who helped to restore relatively reliable electricity to Freetown within three months of the President taking up office.

The article in last Fridays paper confesses that the writer does not also know a lot of specifics such as whether or not a Lebanese hawker supplied us poor or good quality electrical materials. The allegations are all vague and ill-defined and not at all convincing enough to conclude that Zubairu Kalokoh must go and go now!

The way the article was presented, it appears as if it is only Zubairu Kalokoh and Maude Peacocks Board who are to blame for the woes of the National Power Authority but there was no convincing fact alongside the presentation to convince us that the position was a credible one free from taint of malice.

If the Government of President Koroma and/or if Abu Bangura of Privatisation have decided to kick out Zubairu Kalokoh or cut him off, that is their prerogative but for Gods sake, do not bring a good man down into the mud just because you need to sack him.

If you want to let Kalokoh go, this writer will not argue with your right to terminate his acting contract but please do not destroy his public persona without an iota of concrete evidence to back up the serious allegations of malfeasance you are laying against the poor gentleman and spreading all around the world. Dr. Ahmed Zubairu Kalokoh deserves much better than this for his last four years of dedicated and hardworking service to this Nation; however chequered anyone might feel such service has been.

Thank you very much for reading my views.


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